Cryptic aren't a great developer, I really truly believe this. Champions Online was mediocre, especially after the starting zone and Star Trek Online is so unappealing that I never even bothered. They are trite and unoriginal, and I have no enthusiasm for their games. So I am now really confused. Why do I like Neverwinter, the new mmo based on the D&D system, and to a lesser extent the pc games Neverwinter nights. It makes no sense, they are journeyman developers at best, but they have crafted such an amazing world (and tools, more on that later), that I really don't understand.
Neverwinter is currently in open beta, so everyone can try it, and there is a free to play store that you can buy the usual xp potions and such from. At the moment at least it has not been very money grabbing, though this may change as I get further into it. In many respects it is very similar to a lot of mmo's there are traditional roles like clerics, mages and rogues, who level up gaining skills. This is unsurprising given the fact that all mmo's and rpg's generally owe a debt to D&D. However the combat is a little different. Rather than tab targeting, you hit what you are pointed at, with a third person shooter style reticle, with no power bars aside from cooldowns and a dodge power bar similar to GW2's. As you level you get points to unlock new skills or improve existing ones. Interestingly to give the game a more action feel, attacks are keyed to mouse buttons and the Q, E, and R buttons, to make using them and moving easier. It is such a simple idea it is amazing more games don't do it. The number keys are for potions and daily abilities (which confusingly can be used more than once a day). These are super attacks that you build up resources to us.
All This leads to some fairly simple but quite satisfying combat. This in conjunction with some fairly heavy use of instancing leads to some quite dramatic and exciting gameplay. Playing with my wife there are open areas but many of the story quests take you into instanced area's for just your party. This gives them an almost dungeon like quality I rather enjoy (though I suspect there are those who will be put off by the fact that it isn't really an open game world).
Once you are out of the tutorial bit you get access to all the usual pvp and dungeon stuff, and perhaps more importantly the user created content. We plumped for a highly rated quest and played it out, and without spoilers, we were very impressed. An action pack, interesting multi tiered quest set in an instance area of a normally shared environment.If this was an indication of what can be done in a relatively short period of time, then I think the community may end up generating some very special stuff for this game.
As you can tell I am fairly enamoured with this game, considering it is still in beta (not sure that even means much these days) it seems pretty rock solid and we have not suffered any significant problems. I, very much to my surprise, urge you all to check it out, because a generic D&D mmo from a mediocre developer is pretty damn exciting.